1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Thinking about getting turkeys, some questions!

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by mirandaleecon, Nov 19, 2015.

  1. mirandaleecon

    mirandaleecon Chillin' With My Peeps

    693
    42
    103
    Aug 29, 2014
    Panama City, FL
    Hello! I have been thinking about getting turkeys and have a few questions...

    Right now, I have chickens, ducks, and peacocks, all free range. They all get along fairly well (although one drake and peacock have some rough fights every now and then) but I got them all when they were young and they were all raised around each other. I'm not sure how they would feel with a new mystery species among them. What is the best way to integrate them together?

    I plan on free ranging them but what is the best set up for letting them grow up a bit first? My ducks have a simple pen made out of T posts and 2x4 welded wire and a perch (where my peacocks grew up before being free ranged), would something like this work? Or should I build them an actual coop?

    What breed is best for free ranging? Eggs? Meat? I would like to raise some for thanksgiving time but I don't want to buy them each year, so I will save some for eggs. And if I can hatch some to sell to offset the cost, that would be ideal.

    Where is the best place to get poults? Any places I should avoid? And will I have to wait until spring to get any? Any of you willing to sell some hatching eggs?

    And, I just acquired 5 more acres next to me (9 total), which are covered in pines and none of my birds venture over there now. If I clear the pines, how can I encourage the turkeys to hang out there, instead of closer to the house. I'm having a hard time deciding if it would be worth the effort to build their enclosure in the new property to kind of keep them separated from the other birds. If they are just going to hang around the house, I would rather just make their enclosure there so I don't have to walk so much for maintenance/feeding...

    Sorry for so many questions, I just wasn't coming up with many answers when I did searches on here...Thank you for any input!
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

    15,914
    3,509
    436
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I have personally found that turkeys can harass and even sometimes kill other species like chickens, my other poultry give way to the turkeys, I will never keep them together, mine all free range on the same pasture, turkeys get better with age and become more tolerant.

    You will want to get heritage turkeys which come in many different colors and two sizes, they can reproduce and live a lot longer, though if you are raising them for meat broad breasted grow faster and bigger but don't usually live long, and have trouble reproducing.

    Turkeys can really free range if you don't contain them or keep an eye on them, so true free ranging can end up with your turkeys awol. Turkeys tolerate cold weather better than hot, and it depends on your climate as far as housing, I have an enclosed shed, but three sided shelters can work in the right climate.

    I have gotten all my turkeys from Porters turkeys, he sells poults and hatching eggs.
     
  3. mirandaleecon

    mirandaleecon Chillin' With My Peeps

    693
    42
    103
    Aug 29, 2014
    Panama City, FL
    Thank you for the response! I think I am going to do what I can to keep them on the new property so they don't fight with the peafowl...
     
  4. memphis

    memphis Overrun With Chickens

    4,087
    1,228
    336
    Aug 6, 2012
    I'm pretty sure several of the peafowl folks range turkeys & peafowl. I know Kathy & Zaz do. You may want to check with them to see how they manage it. Go to the Show Off Your Peas thread and see what they say. They all hang out there.
     
  5. teria

    teria Chillin' With My Peeps

    168
    18
    73
    Apr 26, 2015
    Salem Utah
    We got our two Bourbon Reds as poults at about the same size, not the same age, as our four younger hens. The hens were about two weeks old when we got the 3 day old turkey poults, and they were kind of raised together. We would put them in a grow out pen in the free ranging yard. It was about 8 ft by 12 ft surrounded by hardware wire fencing and gave all of them room to romp, but, were protected from my older hens (about 15 weeks old at the time). The chicks were kind of mean to the poults, and we felt pretty sorry for them, but, once the poults were bigger than the chicks it all seemed to mellow out. The poults hung out with the chicks and got along fine, in fact , the poults would panic if they lost track of the chicks even for a minute.

    Then, all of a sudden, when the poults turned about 20 weeks old, everything changed. We caught them a couple of times chasing one of our hens (one that they were in the grow out pen with), and then one day, they cornered one of them and jumped on top and were scratching her. We confined the poults to the grow out pen again, and set up the little tykes playhouse as their coop. I take them out every day and walk them around so they can range and forage a bit, but, if I don't watch them, they go after one of those hens that they had been in the grow out pen with. May be it's a little bit of revenge, I don't know, but, they are the only hens in our flock that the turkeys really go after. They will chase the others away from something they are eating, but, they pretty much leave it at that. At least that is where they leave it for now.

    I don't know if we will have turkeys again next year, but, if we do, they will not be free ranged with our chickens. I've read stories from other people of turkeys killing their chickens for no apparent reason.

    As far as getting in trees, oh, they will definitely do that, but, they may not come down where you want them to, and it may not even be your tree. We keep a wing clipped on each turkey to keep them closer to the ground.

    For housing, they need at least 4 sq feet of roosting space per bird, so, take that into account if you plan to house them for very long. Higher is always better unless they are a broad breasted breed, then lower is better, when it comes to roosts. If we were going to raise another set, I would set up a shed with roosts about four feet off the ground.

    Aside from the chicken chasing, we've really enjoyed having the turkeys. They are funny, inquisitive, and clumsy. They look at us with their big brown eyes and it's hard to be mad at them. Their absolute favorite food is apples. Melons are a close second. Plan on a high protein diet, but, free ranging will take care of a lot of that during the spring and summer.

    Turkeys are extremely social birds, and need at least one other turkey to not be depressed. They also tend to starve themselves if they are upset, and all it may take is just bringing them to a new home to make them stop eating. I had to feed ours off of my finger for a couple of days, and then put a mirror in their brooder box behind their feeding dish, and that seemed to get them eating thinking they were seeing other turkeys eating.
     
  6. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

    15,914
    3,509
    436
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I have found that that first year turkeys are really a pain in the butt, they become a gang of thugs who will chase and harass and climb and fly, and generally drive me insane, thankfully the next spring they are more interested in reproducing and slowly become better behaved birds, my adult hens will occasionally harass a chicken and I will always house them separately, but at least they do improve and calm down so they can go back to free ranging, this time of year, because of the young ones, free ranging lasts less than a half an hour because of the insanity.
     
  7. OmAnNom

    OmAnNom Chillin' With My Peeps

    110
    5
    96
    Aug 10, 2011
    Fort Bragg, NC
    Space!
     
  8. mirandaleecon

    mirandaleecon Chillin' With My Peeps

    693
    42
    103
    Aug 29, 2014
    Panama City, FL
    Thank you all for the responses! So much to consider! Guess I'll just start with a couple and see how they get along with the rest...
     
  9. cjkleck

    cjkleck Out Of The Brooder

    59
    1
    41
    Oct 8, 2015
    I am also thinking about getting turkeys next year? Does anyone have an idea of cost comparison of broad breasted vs heritage? Obviously you feed heritage all year long but at the same time you can hatch your own heritage chick's vs buy more. Is it cost effective to have heritage or is it a lot more money?
     
  10. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

    15,914
    3,509
    436
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I personally have no comparison between the two, I do know it's cheaper to just buy your turkeys in the store, a fully done turkey can be had for around the price of poults, so it really comes down to what you are looking for, whether you want to tend to turkeys year round, or you are just looking for meat and quick conversion of feed. I don't think it's ever cost effective to raise your own just to make it cost effective. So that's my two cents, I have heritage, they can be a bit expensive feed wise to raise up to adults but I can make all the extra turkeys that I want, but I still have to feed them all year, and put up with any turkey shenanigans, where if I had broad breasted I would have to buy poults every year but then I wouldn't have to feed them more than a couple of months, and they aren't as much trouble.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by